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ISLAMABAD: The Inter-Provi­ncial Coordination Committee (IPCC) on Thursday formally agreed to the federal government’s proposal to allow the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to use provisional census data to carry out delimitation of constituencies under the Election Bill of 2017.

An official source privy to the IPCC meeting told Dawn that the Law Division had already drafted a bill, on directives of the federal government, to amend Article 51(5) of the Constitution in this regard.

Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada presided over the meeting held on Thursday, and senior officers and representatives of all four provinces were present.

Under Article 51(5) of the Constitution, seats are allocated to the provinces, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), and the federal capital in accordance with officially published results. This is also mandatory for planning purposes.

Govt looking to amend Constitution’s provisions that require ECP to use official census data

As per the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the final published reports of the census would be ready latest by April 2018. However, the ECP had earlier explained that the process of conducting delimitation could take up to seven months.

According to the source, the Law Division had earlier held two meetings to deliberate over the draft amendment of the law, in order to allow the ECP to use the provisional census data for delimitation purposes.

The government had released the provisional results of the sixth population census on Aug 25. The results had indicated significant demographic changes which necessitated a reallocation of seats in the National Assembly as well as in the provincial assemblies.

The provisional figures of the census conducted this year indicate variation in the provinces’ share of the total population compared to the last census conducted in 1998.

Balochistan’s share of the total population has increased from 4.96 per cent in 1998 to 5.94pc in 2017, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s share has gone up from 13.41pc to 14.69pc over a period of 19 years. Fata, too, registered a slight increase in the share of the total population — from 2.40pc in 1998 to 2.41pc in 2017.

Sindh’s share increased from 23pc in 1998 to 23.05pc in 2017 and Islamabad Capital Territory’ share went up from 0.61pc to 0.97pc over a period of 19 years.

Punjab was the only province that registered a decrease in the share of the total population — from 55.95pc in 1998 to 52.95pc in 2017.

According to the source, if seats were reallocated on the basis of these changes in population shares of provinces, the ECP would have to conduct delimitation of constituencies as per Chapter 3 of the Elections Bill of 2017.

Chapter III of the Act states that the ECP is required to delimit “territorial constituencies for elections to the NA, each Provincial Assembly and to the local governments”. The process is to be carried out after every census.

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2017